Friday, October 05, 2007

The Rudy Split

Not to dub myself a prophet (yet again), but I have been saying all year that if Rudy Giuliani wins the 2008 GOP nomination, it will split the party - at least sufficiently to doom his chances against Hillary Clinton. This is, of course, why I have also deemed "America's Mayor" unnominatable. Of course, this is the same party that put up poor old pre-Viagra Bob Dole against Sick Willie in 1996, so you might want to hold off on booking my trip up Mt. Sinai for a bit longer.

Particularly since James Dobson was given op-ed space in the New York Times today. I can conceive of no other circumstance in which a prominent member of the Christian Right would even be allowed to enter the state of New York unless he had an axe to grind against the lone social liberal in the Republican presidential race and the party itself if it lets its collective brain turn to clam sauce and gives him the baton. The treasonous denizens of the Grey Lady evidently have the sense to get out of the way when their political enemies are bent on destroying themselves.

Still, there are plenty of countervailing stories that suggest a significant mitigation of the impact this evangelical subset may actually have on next year's canvass. I guess those respondents didn't participate in this Rasmussen survey:
If Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination and a third party campaign is backed by Christian conservative leaders, 27% of Republican voters say they’d vote for the third party option rather than Giuliani. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that a three-way race with Hillary Clinton would end up with the former First Lady getting 46% of the vote, Giuliani with 30% and the third-party option picking up 14%.
I'd call that a significant split, wouldn't you?

This raises the question of Rudy's electability, as Allahpundit notes. Of course, "electability" in this context means "ability to attract moderate and liberal votes." It's the same, tired, old Nixon strategy of screwing over the right-wing base in the general campaign in favor of "tacking to the center" based on the smug, complacent assumption that the base will go along because "they have no place else to go." Given the stakes involved with Hillary on the other side of the ballot, and all the implications for America's economic future and very survival as we have known it, one would think 2008 would be a cycle in which that smug, complacent assumption would be likely to pan out. But this Rasmussen poll at least suggests that it might not.

I, as usual, find myself caught in the middle of this quadrennial question. As many of you should know by now, though I am a proud member in good standing of the Christian Right, I am also a supply-sider and a war hawk and a pork-buster and, yes, a Demophobe. My favorite political motto is the quote from Andrew Jackson that adorned the first web page I ever uploaded: "By the eternal, I'll smash them!" In short, I'm not a single-issue voter. I weigh them all, and in 99.44% of all instances, I do the right thing and connect the "R" arrows because that is almost always the best choice for my views, interests, family, and country. For the record, I have voted for two Democrats in my life: Scoop Jackson for U.S. Senate in 1982 (because he was a Cold War hawk and his GOP challenger was for the nuclear freeze), and a state representative in 1996 who switched to the GOP within a month of that particular re-election. So my Republican voting bona fides are, I think, above and beyond reproach.

However, I have made no secret of the fact that I could not, under any circumstances, vote for John McCain if he somehow ended up with the nod next summer. I simply do not trust him; he's burned too many bridges and betrayed the Right on too many issues for me to ever forgive or forget.

But this isn't about Sailor, it's about Rudy. My problem with Rudy is straightforward: he defends Roe v. Wade, the most notorious example of judicial imperialism in American history, and then turns around and says he'll appoint judges to the federal bench and SCOTUS "in the mold of John Roberts and Samuel Alito." Since judicial appointments are the only practical means by which presidents can proactively influence social policymaking, I consider that dichotomy to be unbridgeable, and that, in my mind, discredits Giuliani on that, and by implication every other, issue. To borrow a catch-phrase from Bush the Elder's 1992 re-election flop, "Whom do you trust?" I don't think Rudy falls into that category.

The difference for me is that I don't KNOW he can't be trusted, whereas I do know that about McCain. And I definitely know that about Hillary. So if Rudy does get the nod, though I'd be holding my nose in such a vise grip that my nostrils would fuse together, I would still vote for him. The consequences of effectively surrendering the country to the American Hugo Chavez are completely unacceptable, and to risk them utterly irresponsible.

I tend to think that if the scenario of the Rasmussen poll moves beyond the hypothetical, that 27% figure will rapidly deflate. After all, there's nothing like having the piss scared out of you like dropping a piano casing on an open tube of toothpaste to reignite that old partisan fire.